Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The sword and the saucer

This tour has been like a screaming rollercoaster! One of those rollercoaster’s that they have in horror movies, with flaming skulls painted on the sides of the cars and barbed wire for seat belts and the operator is an old disfigured man with a maniacal laugh that haunts you in your nightmares for years after you’ve escaped…sorry, I got carried away. I haven’t time to really sit still, much less blog, so I’ve got a lot to tell. We started in Rogers AR about 30 years ago…(or at least 2 weeks ago). Great shows in Rogers, we saw Jeff and Trina and got our traditional post show photo in front of the van (different drummer every time!). Then we drove 19 hours to Salt Lake City UT. As a side note, did you know that the Starbucks in Rock Springs WY closes at 6:00pm!?! Great shows at The Sun & Moon CafĂ©, always a pleasure to play there. We visited Steamboat Springs and discovered that sometimes we’re just too loud…sometimes…nah! Paonia CO was another unexpected surprise. Great Mexican food and the gig, while a small turnout, proved to be a real fun experience. So much so that, since we were off the next day, they invited us to play the next night also. We went for a hike in the hills during the day and tried to kill the band with thin air and long climbs! Jake’s Roadhouse in Arvada was the best time we’ve EVER had there. A couple of days hanging out in Boulder CO, and then it was off to The Buckhorn Bar in Laramie WY, another favorite place of the SHB. Cunningham Journal in Kearney NE was a blast, Blues on Grand in Des Moines is always a fantastic place to play, thanks Jeff! Sioux City and Davenport IA were a couple of wonderful stops. On our way to Minneapolis, we stopped of in Clearlake IA and paid our respects at the crash site of Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly. 40 mile an hour winds and really cold temperature made it a short visit, but we decided to drive by the Surf Ballroom, where the last gig of the Winter Dance Party was played, and get a picture. We got there and discovered that the place was open and we got to go in and look around. Checked out the dressing room, the stage and all the memorabilia. Richard ran into a really nice guy named Wayne that worked there and after explaining who we were, he gave us a great tour that included a piano played by Duke Ellington, the Pepsi machine that Waylon Jennings used and the phone booth that Buddy used on that fateful night to call his wife. An awesome stop and a great treat.
So now we’re in Minneapolis. Last night we went to Shaw’s, Bunker’s and Nick & Eddie. Some of our favorite places to hang and listen to music. So to sum up the trip so far, it’s been play music, Mexican food, drive, play music, Mexican food, drive, play music, breakfast at Starbucks, drive, play music, pizza, drive, sleep, play music, record store, Mexican food, play music, drive. Seems easy when you say it like that…

Friday, March 20, 2009

American Idol cancels season!

So far the tour’s going good, we’ve done 5 shows so far and the first one, in Rogers AR, seems like a million years ago. That’s one thing about the road; time just absolutely stops making any kind of sense. One day feels like a year and a week can seem like 20 minutes. We did a radio show a little while ago. Check it out at www.kvnf.org I’m in a really nice room right now, with internet for only the second time on the whole trip and I’m looking at a fake mustache. It was here when we got here, but it’s disturbing nonetheless.
What’s the deal with fake mustaches anyway? Does anyone ever really wear them with the intention of trying to make you think that they’ve actually grown a mustache? I think most actors these days actually grow whatever facial hair is required for the role. I bet that was really Kurt Russell’s mustache in Tombstone. I was in a major motion picture once and I didn’t wear a fake mustache. Of course, my character was; “Scott Holt, guitarist with Buddy Guy” and in my research for the role, I learned that “Scott Holt” didn’t have a mustache; just an unfortunate shaggy haircut that I thought looked fine at the time. I don’t know for sure, but this particular fake mustache doesn’t look real. Of course it’s not in its natural habitat (on some guy’s lip…or unfortunate woman’s lip for that matter); it’s just lying on the table. Mocking me with its faux importance. As if to say, “I am a fake mustache! I might have come here from Hollywood for all you know!” What if the last person who stayed in this room was a spy of some sort and the mustache was part of their disguise? Maybe this was the room for their stakeout and when the mission was over, they forgot to pack the fake mustache away in its special spy carrying case. Usually when you see someone in a movie using a fake mustache, they have a case with all sorts of fake facial hair pieces. I think a good disguise would be to completely cover your whole head in fake hair. Then no matter who you came in contact with, they wouldn’t be able to tell it was you! Like cousin It on The Addams Family. I once saw a guy wearing a Darth Vader helmet and it was impossible to tell who it was. No, before you ask yourself out loud, that wasn’t all he was wearing, he had clothes on but he was wearing the Darth Vader helmet…on his head. It could have been anybody! Jerry Lewis, Elvis, Barbara Stanwick, the guy that plays Benjamin Linus on Lost, Pat Sajak or Nipsey Russell, (I’m not sure if Nipsey Russell is still alive or not, but he was always great on game shows with Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly). Match Game, Cross Wits, What’s My Line. I’m not to sure that The Darth Vader helmet would be a good disguise though, unless you were at a Star Wars convention. The only one in my band that doesn’t have facial hair is Marshal. I think I’m going to ask him to try on the fake mustache and see if I can still recognize him. I bet I can.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Feral pigs create buzz at awards show!

Almost 20 years ago, I formed the first version of the SHB. It was right around the time I got with Buddy Guy and I had my band on the side to play shows in and around Nashville when I was off the road with Buddy. That first band; Derek and Drew Wiseman and Chris Kent were augmented by our dear friend Bobby Inman. In the early days, Bobby was the guitar tech, comic foil and all around SHB utility man. Bobby went on the road with me in the early days of my solo career, after I left Buddy and created the role of SHB guitar tech basically from scratch. When Bobby decided to leave the road for good, I asked him to write out a summary of all the things he thought our new guitar tech might need to know. I just thought he’d write down a few ideas to help with the transition. What I got back was 3 legal sheets, front and back! I’ve since lost that precious document, but recently my Uncle Wayne was going through some old files and found a typed copy of Bobby’s original list. Some of you know Bobby and will appreciate this more than those of you that haven’t had the chance to meet him yet. He is truly one of a kind and we’ve had some great crew guys since Bobby, but there’s never been anyone like Bobby. Bobby doesn’t have a computer, so if you know him, let him know “Scotty” (the only people who call me that are Bobby and our friends in Canada!) put a tribute to him on the blog! Here’s what Bobby did for me, unedited;
Load In
1. Help take all gear to stage. Once all gear is in club consontrate on guitar stuff only.
2. Setup amps left side of stage, behind Gene O. Bassman, Marshall on right close to Tom, Super Reverb on left, on outside. Plexiglass shield in front of both.
3. Small silver splitter box, 3-3ft cables, thick shielded cable from bassman speaker to marshall cab. 1 from bassman 2nd channel 1st input to split box. 1 from 2nd channel 1st input superreverb to split box.
4. Pedal board, when power cord is plugged in, pedalboard is on, take other cable plug into input on split box.
5. Straighten out cables on board – (1-25ft – 1 – 150ft.) before each show & during breaks. Check all wires & pedals.
6. Incense in front of plexi, keep burning whole show.
7. Picks on mic stand.
8. Turn amps on standby 1 hour before showtime to let warmup.
9. Check all setting on amps & pb, before show turn on amps hookup gtr check all pedals 1 at a time.
10. Make sure band has towels on stage and water.
11. For SCOTTY only water little ice.
12. For SCOTTY, before show redwine cabernet, during show water, during break Heinekin.
13. Make friends with soundman, bartender, barmaids, ask them for things you may need towels-water etc!!
14. Keep plenty of picks in pocket at all times, also Carefree peppermint gum (yellow pack) & van –trailer keys, & cig lighter for incense.
15. During show keep constant eye on SCOTTY, other band members may need help sometimes.
16. Watch for broke strings, mostly breaks (high E or 10) does break others though.
17. Try to get old broke strings off stage, can cause bad mess, around cables etc.
18. BE ready for (long cable) hookup, the song at the time or the next 1 or 2 he is going into the crowd, keep cable from getting knotted, follow Scotty through the crowd, don’t mind asking people to move or get off the cable, just ask nicely.
19. After show break down gear pack up, load out. Make plenty of dummy checks, better safe than sorrow.
20. Check to see if mic is grounded, plug in gtr cut on amps back of right hand across gtr strings, back of left hand touch mic, to see if it shocks.
21. Before show make sure plenty of walk room on stage, no tangled cords in path way, no old beer bottles, no glasses, no trash in way on stage.
22. NO bottles, glasses, or drinks on GTR AMPS!!!!
23. BEST place for GTR TECH WORK STATION is on same side of stage as the amps, usually the side SCOTTY enters from, plus you can listen to the amps if something is wrong, and everything is there together.
24. ON stage 1 mic only, vocals tad of reverb, in monitors.

No wonder Bobby decided he didn’t want to go on the road anymore!! Since Bobby, we’ve had 17 guitar tech/crew guys! I wonder why the turnover’s so high?.....

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Max 03/02/09

So some of you know, we lost Max today. He passed away during the night and we buried him today. Thank you all for the prayers, phone calls, emails, texts, words of encouragement and just the “letting us know you’re there”. It’s important. Do it every time you know someone who loses someone, even if it’s ‘just a pet’, even if they act like they don’t want it. It’s important. Our friends have lifted us up today. Our family has been there. It sucks to lose a pet. It just does. Before you confuse me with the “I raised my monkey like a child” people, I know the difference. I’ve lost people. It hurts your soul. Pets are like kids in that they require your care. They can’t make it without it. My dog would look you in the eye, which if you know anything about dogs, you know that’s unusual. It wasn’t a dominance thing, it was a communication thing. A trust thing. He wanted to understand me and for me to understand him. When he wanted water or to go outside, he’d put his head in my lap and just look at me. Max was a house dog. I let him out the day he got hit. I’ll never forgive myself for being the one that didn’t go out with him and watch him. I could have prevented this. Our cat is an old man. We’ve had him for 20 years. He hated Max from day one. He hated Jake before him. He’s acted weird all day. He’s one of those people that only feels comfortable showing you nothing but loathing but inside he’s missing Max like the rest of us. That’s not a “monkey like a child” philosophy and if you think it is FU. My wife thinks I cuss too much, but I digress. The thing is, my dog deserved better than to die in a hit and run. He deserved better because he was better. The most supreme compliment I can pay him is that he was a GOOD DOG. He was hard headed like a muthaf***er, but he was a good dog. My daughter would ride him like a horse and he wouldn’t complain. She would put hats on him and he’d accept it. She used him as a pillow and he loved her for it. He never relaxed in the house until he could account for all of us. He would lay in a room between all of us if we were in separate rooms so he could be near us all. His last full day on earth was spent playing in the snow until he was exhausted. When we finally brought him inside to rest, he howled to be out with the kids. That’s the picture on my MySpace and my blog, a dog having a ball. Living life in the right now. I’ve lost plenty of loved ones, my dad, all my grandparents, 2 of my best friends, the list is unfortunately endless. I haven’t cried for Max today because I’m the daddy and the husband. My job is to be the strong one and get my family through this. I’ll cry tonight and I wish Max was here asleep by the couch, farting, because that’s what he did. That dog was the gassiest dog I’ve ever known! I love you Max and I’m sorry I let you down.

Monday, March 02, 2009


So our dog Max got hit by a car today. I’m not sure if it was a car or a truck because the thoughtless, soulless person, and I say this because Max weighs 100+ pounds and is the size of a small pony so I’m sure there was significant damage to the vehicle (I hope that your car was totaled and you have no insurance!), didn’t even stop. No skid marks to show an attempt to try and dodge the LARGE YELLOW dog, no stopping and asking at the nearest house (there are 5 houses within 200 yards of ours) whose LARGE YELLOW dog it might be, nothing. Max laid in a neighbor’s yard until my father –in-law found him and called me. Max is at the vet with a broken pelvis, a hernia, and head trauma. In addition, he has either a bruised (we hope) or a severed spinal cord. Tonight he’s sedated and we’re hopeful that the next 48 hours will bring a miracle. We’ve had Max for less than a year but he’s an important part of our family. Every morning I wake up and my daughter’s on the couch watching TV with Max at her feet. When I come home, Max is in my daughter’s room lying on her window seat watching the driveway. In the last year we’ve lost Jake, our dog of 15 years, and Teak, Buffy’s horse of 20 something years. My wife and my daughter who’s nine are committed animal lovers. It’s hard to comfort my wife, who’s trying to deal with Max’s pain and potential loss, it’s hard to try and comfort while I feel responsible for Max’s pain, and I’m the one who let him out today to go to the bathroom. It’s hard to explain all of this to a nine year old who’s had to deal with more loss than a grown person should (no it’s not just the two pets). It’s hard, I’m sure, for non-pet lovers to understand. We’re not raising monkeys as children; we just love our dog and pray that he’s going to be ok. Thanks for all the prayers and positive thoughts, they are more important than you’ll ever know.

If you'll suck my soul, I'll lick your funky emotions

So Saturday night, we’re driving back from Gulf Port Mississippi. The temp there is 65 degrees. Buff keeps telling me that there are winter storm warnings for our area (about 7 hours north) and a 30 degree difference in temperature. We get to Tuscaloosa AL and there’s no precipitation or anything, just really cold. Tuscaloosa is about 3 ½ hours from home so I figure we have this ride just about licked. Marshal takes over driving and I’m in the front seat riding shotgun. I fall asleep around 2:00 am and wake up at about 4:00. When I open my eyes, I see what looks like low hanging limbs coming over the side of the road and it looks like we’re drifting into them! My mind, which is still pretty groggy, thinks that Marshal’s fallen asleep and we’re about to wreck. I don’t even turn to check if this is the case, I just grab his shoulder and start yelling, “AAAHHHHHHH!!!” Marshal, who is NOT asleep, starts yelling back “AAHHHH! Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up!” For a good 5 or 10 seconds, we’re both yelling at the same time “AAAHHHHH!”
What I didn’t realize in my groggy condition was that it had been snowing HARD for about the last 2 hours and the road was invisible. The snow was coming down so hard that if you looked straight out the windshield you’d become disoriented from the golf ball sized snowflakes coming directly at you. Marshal had been driving in this crap for 2 hours with a death grip on the steering wheel with everyone in the van asleep. Then out of nowhere, I wake up, grab his arm and start yelling “AAAAHHHHHHH!” While it wasn’t funny at the time, I’m cracking up right now as I type this! It was like a scene from Planes, Trains & Automobiles or something.